Foraging for hope
As we meander around in a bluebell wood with a basket bursting with recently foraged mushrooms, I feel like a child again. I grew up in the city so bluebell woods are not an intrinsic part of my childhood memories. Yet on entering them, this is how I feel, lilac blue stretching as far as I can see amongst the trees. It fills me with calm, with hope and with wonder.
We’re on a foray with mushroom and truffle hunter extraordinaire, Melissa Waddingham and we have already had a packed day, foraging in two locations in the Sussex countryside. We are blessed with bountiful finds.
The first is a huge Chicken of the Woods mushroom, weighing up to 5 kg. We can hardly believe our eyes as Melissa leads us off the path, through the undergrowth and up to a fallen, moss covered tree trunk where the giant mushroom flourishes. As we find out later, this mushroom does indeed taste just like chicken when cooked the right way.
At our next location we come across plenty of St George’s Mushrooms. It’s a fun mushroom to look for as they grow in circles. When you find a couple, chances are you can trace the circle and find a whole bunch, up to a kg from each circle. Be mindful to leave behind some of the younger mushrooms to ensure the survival of the circle for next year’s harvest. Before long our basket is full and everyone are skidding contentedly along a muddy path to the bluebell wood.
To read more about the mushrooms, check out Melissa’s blog post about them here.
The contrast between the harsh reality for those facing pancreatic cancer and us out and about in the sunshine is palpable, yet this is the whole reason we’re out here, in aid of Pancreatic Cancer Action.
When someone you love has cancer, it is easy for your whole world to be consumed by the disease. Hope is crucial to help you stay semi-sane. And hope comes from knowledge. And knowledge comes from research.
When Kate’s mum was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer a few months ago, at first her whole world imploded. Everything fell apart as her brain struggled to come to terms with what this meant.
After a while she realized that for her, raising awareness of this “forgotten” cancer was the best way for her to keep hold of her hope. Our forage was one of a number of events and campaigns in the pipeline. Early diagnosis is crucial and the proceeds from the forage is going to Pancreatic Cancer Action, a charity with a particular focus on this. Kate said: "Ali from Pancreatic Cancer Action has been really great with my mum, spending a lot of time with her on the phone, working out the best options". She continued: "I'm thrilled to have been able to raise a significant amount of money in a very short time to help others get the support they need". You can find out more about their work on their website.
Here's a link to Kate's JustGiving page if you would like to contribute with a donation.
If you’d like to find out more about Melissa and her forays, follow this link.